Lee County was most likely named for William Elliot Lee, who once owned land in southeast Iowa, including the area that became Lee County. The battle over the county seat is lengthy. The Iowa Assembly passed a special act in 1848 that established two court houses and two county seats. The Iowa Attorney General reaffirmed the law as recently as 1975.Even though there have been numerous court battles and editorials over the county seat question, both towns function as the county seat of Lee County.
South Lee County offices were held in rented buildings for several years. In 1859, Lee County purchased the Keokuk College of Physicians and Surgeons Building, a Romanesque building designed by W. A. Rice in 1856. This building served the county until 1976.
In 1975, the county acquired the old YWCA building, which was remodeled for courthouse use and occupied in 1976.
Today's courthouse is the former Federal Courthouse and Post Office, a three story Romanesque brick, stone, and terra cotta structure designed by M. E. Bell in 1889. It features a seven-story clock tower. It was remodeled for use as a courthouse in 1992. The South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The North Lee County Courthouse at Fort Madison was completed in 1842.
Visit the Lee County web site for more information.
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